The Monday agenda 4/8/2013

MondayAgendaNot a lofty, ambitious to-be-read list consisting of 100+ book titles. Just a simple plan for the upcoming week — what I’m reading now, what I plan to read next, and what I’m hoping to squeeze in among the nooks and crannies.

Sometimes I ask myself, why bother with a plan? After all, I just end up reading whatever strikes my fancy, 9 times out of 10. Or so it seems. Anyway, in my own probably futile attempt to control the chaos, here goes:

How did I do with last week’s agenda?

Dreamers of the Day by Mary Doria Russell. Finished last week, and finally wrote a review. Plus, my book group discussion about Dreamers of the Day was terrific. And now I can say that I’ve read everything written by Mary Doria Russell — and can only sit back and wait for her to finish the next book.

The Uninvited Guests by Sadie Jones. Finished! My review is here.

Not on last week’s agenda, but I read it anyhow: Stranded by Jeff Probst and Chris Tebbetts. My son finished this middle grade book, then insisted I read it as well. Our take on Stranded is here. Short version: If your kids are Survivor fans, this kids’ book by the Survivor host is a great choice.

Also in kids’ books: My son abandoned me midway through our read-aloud of Down the Mysterly River by Bill Willingham, so I finally decided to finish it on my own. My review is here.

Fresh Catch:

New acquisitions, both purchased and borrowed from the library — here’s what joined my collection, permanently or temporarily, this past week:

Bought or received:

Plus, I went to hear Cheryl Strayed speak this past week (she was fantastic!) and I finally bought myself a copy of Wild, since the copy I read a few months back was borrowed from a friend. And look! She signed it!

I also picked up a few books from the library. Why do all my holds come in all at once??? I may not get to read them all before they’re due again, but here’s what came home with me this week:

So yeah. My book habits are out of control. Like that’s a surprise.

What’s on my reading agenda for the coming week?

I actually have a clean slate at the moment. I’m not in the middle of anything! So what to read?

I intend to start with Lady of Ashes by Christine Trent. A Victorian lady undertaker! Sounds like something I’ll love.

Next, I’m really looking forward to reading the review copy of The River of No Return by Bee Ridgway, which just arrived in the mail yesterday. Time travel + historical fiction = something I can’t wait to read.

Meanwhile, I really should get to one of the new, biggish novels that have come my way, but I’m trying not to overcommit — so no promises for what’s next!

So many book, so little time…

That’s my agenda. What’s yours? Add your comments to share your bookish agenda for the week.

Q&A with the kiddo: A kid’s-eye view of Stranded

Book Review: Stranded by Jeff Probst and Chris Tebbetts

From Amazon:

A family vacation becomes a game of survival!
It was supposed to be a vacation–and a chance to get to know each other better. But when a massive storm sets in without warning, four kids are shipwrecked alone on a rocky jungle island in the middle of the South Pacific. No adults. No instructions. Nobody to rely on but themselves. Can they make it home alive?

A week ago, the biggest challenge Vanessa, Buzz, Carter, and Jane had was learning to live as a new blended family. Now the four siblings must find a way to work together if they’re going to make it off the island. But first they’ve got to learn to survive one another.

Proudly presenting Q&A with the kiddo, courtesy of my 10-year-old son, in which I ask my kiddo to describe a book he’s enjoyed recently and he gives his opinions, more or less unfiltered by mom.

Without further ado:

Q: What book do you want to talk about?

A: Stranded

Q: What was it about?

A: It’s about these kids who get stranded on an island. They were on a boat and there was a boat wreck. The adults were gone, so there were just four kids on an island surviving for themselves.

Q: Who was your favorite character?

A: Carter and Jane. They’re the most adventurous and outdoorsy and fun and not scared.

Q: What was the best part?

A: My favorite part is when they get sucked in [by strong currents in] the water. They’re in the water and they finally pop out and Carter catches Jane and they swim back to shore.

Q: Would you recommend this book?

A: Yes. I’d recommend it for adventurous kids and kids who like stories with cliffhangers.

Q: Do you want to read the rest of the series?

A: Yes! I want to read the next book when it comes out.

Q: Do you have anything else to say about this book?

A: It’s funny, it’s fun to read. You should read it or it’s your loss.

Mom’s two cents:

My kiddo and I are big fans of Survivor on TV, and so when I heard that Survivor host Jeff Probst was writing a book series for kids, I knew we had to get it! My son read Stranded on his own, and thought the reading level was perfect. He like the book so much that he pretty much insisted that I read it as soon as he finished. Stranded is really a lot of fun, with a good solid lesson in there as well (although without any preachiness or heavy-handedness). The four children in the book are step-siblings who are being treated to a sailing adventure while their parents are on their honeymoon. While my son mostly focused on the adventure aspects of the story, I liked the portrayal of two sets of brothers and sisters forced to figure out how to redefine their family and accept one another’s quirks, talents, and weaknesses. When the two adults on board are separated from the kids during a sudden storm at sea, they have to rely on themselves, their bonds, and their skills and knowledge to figure out how to survive — and hopefully, how to get themselves rescued.

The blended family aspect provides a nice layer of complication to the high-adrenaline disaster and adventure story. Stranded is the first in a trilogy, and ends — as my son mentions — with a big cliffhanger. We’ll both be back for the next installment!

Stranded is a good choice for middle grade readers, especially those just gaining comfort with reading chapter books on their own. It’s not very long, but it’s certainly engaging and exciting. Any time my kiddo asks for “5 more minutes!!” while he’s reading, I know we have a hit on our hands.

My only complaint? Nowhere in the book does anyone say, “The tribe has spoken.” Maybe in the next book? One can only hope.

Stranded 2: Trial By Fire will be released in June.